Agents of SHIELD – Season 2 Episode 18
“The Frenemy of My Enemy”
The dynamics in Agents of SHIELD continue to shift as Coulson has no choice but to team up with Ward as Skye gets used to the idea of Cal being her father.
It’s definitely been a season of growth for this show and each episode continues to build on what has come before. The most interesting plotline for me is the narrative involving Skye coming to terms with her origins. Having Inhumans on the show has changed things for the better and learning all about that through Skye’s perspective is proving to be quite interesting.
It would be so easy for the show to focus on the world changing ramifications of the Inhumans existing but instead it is played smart and the focus is kept on character. I really enjoyed the scenes where Skye wandered around what would have been her hometown with Cal and learned a little about how her life might have turned out if things had gone differently.
As always Cal remains an interesting character who always seems on the verge of snapping. When he’s with his daughter he’s almost deliriously happy but there’s something beneath the surface that could spring loose at any point. It makes any scene that he’s in a lot more compelling as there’s that “ticking time bomb” sort of a vibe to him.
There was a strong sense of the start of acceptance from Skye who seems to find her heritage all the more appealing the more she learns about it. This was especially telling in the scene when she discovered that Cal’s last name was “Johnson”. She tries out the name “Daisy Johnson” to see how it sounds and it appears that she likes the sound of it. Is it possible that she’ll start going by that in the near future? Hopefully she’ll adopt the “Quake” moniker while she’s at it.
As good as these scenes were it all seemed a little quick for the relationship to be at this point. Just last week she still had it in her head that Cal was a monster and now after one dinner with him she’s more willing to be on his side. I do like that she’s still somewhat cautious like in the scene where she advises her mother against sending him away due to how dangerous he is. Her response pointing out that she doesn’t really care who he hurts outside of their community gives the first seeds conflict between the Inhumans and humans. Jiaying seems to be sending Cal away for purely selfish reasons as the only motivation seems to be avoiding the awkward questions being asked by other members of the Inhuman community. He’s not strictly one of them and they’re all wondering why he’s there. I can’t help but think there’s more to it than that but I guess we’ll see.
Skye contacting May to warn her about Cal is another instance of her remaining cautious in his company. She wants S.H.I.E.L.D to detain him so that he can’t hurt anyone. It’s an interesting contrast between the concern and affection being felt by Skye. I’m glad to see that her loyalties are still to S.H.I.E.L.D. which suggests that she’s still somewhat reluctant to call the Inhumans her family yet. It makes sense given that she has been an orphan most of her life. As far as she’s concerned S.H.I.E.L.D. will still be her family.
Coulson’s story fed into Skye’s in a big way bit they weren’t initially connected. This episode features the return of H.Y.D.R.A. after being noticeably absent for the past few episodes. He forms an uneasy alliance with Ward and Kara in order to infiltrate them. I was a bit apprehensive about the show having Ward and Coulson working together again but I thought it was actually used pretty well. There was absolutely no trust between them and they were each using the other for their own ends. It just so happens that their objectives are compatible this time.
Ward’s objective seems to be getting H.Y.D.R.A. to make Kara whole again so that they can be together. It has got to be insincere as I don’t believe for a single second that Ward is that sentimental. He must be using Kara for some other purpose, it’s the only possible explanation.
Having Fitz along for the ride created some interesting tension since Ward is responsible for his brain damage so really isn’t his favourite person right now. Ward could only be toying with him when he asked how was was. Fitz’ angry reaction was perfectly justified and his general unease with the situation was apparent throughout. Hunter does explain to him that it’s necessary sometimes but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Bakshi returns to serve in a double agent capacity and lets them see what H.Y.D.R.A. is up to through the eyes of Deathlok’s tech. It seems easy for them to buy that Deathlok works for them and Bakshi manages to win the verbal joust that might implicate him as a traitor so all seems good there. Of course his true loyalty turns out to be to H.Y.D.R.A. but I don’t think Coulson didn’t see that coming. Everything here was pretty much a means to an end.
May, Simmons and Bobbi were only featured briefly but definitely fed into the other two stories. May and Bobbi find out that the toolbox they have is a fake and that Fitz has the real one so Simmons is not in the best of positions at this point. Bobbi seems to take it well but I get the impression that she expected Simmons to remain loyal to Coulson despite her claims to the contrary. May seems to be playing the game as far as working for “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. goes but I don’t think she’s necessarily on their side. It’s more likely that she is as curious to find out what Coulson has been up to as they are so really needs him to answer some questions. It doesn’t look good when he is seen standing next to Ward, I’m sure that will cause some conclusions to be jumped to.
In terms of tying this all into the wider universe there were many references to Baron Von Strucker and talk of where he currently is. This probably puts this concurrently with Avengers: Age of Ultron and there will no doubt be things that happen in that film that will affect the goings on in this show. I wonder how far reaching they will be on the whole. I doubt it will be as game changing as last year but time will tell.
The action in this episode was excellent. The chaos of having Coulson and his team fighting H.Y.D.R.A. agents who were after the Inhumans in the building as Skye and Cal tried to keep themselves out of trouble. It was cool to see Lincoln’s power used more offensively and get a sense of how dangerous the guy actually is. Cal as always was a treat in his Hyde rage. Seeing all these different sides coming together in one place was really cool and really reinforces the complex nature of the allegiances in this show.
Coulson’s decision to be captured by S.H.I.E.D. is an interesting one. I can see his point of view in the sense that he doesn’t really have anywhere to go now after the massive defeat he suffered. Deathlok is with H.Y.D.R.A, Skye and Cal are back in Afterlife and Hunter is injured so if Coulson wants to get anything done then he’ll have to go back to S.H.I.E.L.D. I really hope he has a plan to get out of there because I doubt they’ll really want to help him out. One thing is clear though, there are bigger things happening that need to be dealt with so resources are better spent on that rather than hunting Coulson. The rest of Coulson’s team are still out there so I wonder if he has left Ward or Hunter with instructions.
Another strong episode that keeps the focus on Skye’s emotional journey towards acceptance of her heritage.
The scenes between Skye and her father as they explore the life they could have had were the strongest in the episode. There are definite signs that Skye is starting to accept her origins as shown by her trying out the “Daisy Johnson” name to see how it sounds to her. I like that she always remains cautious of Cal and hasn’t forgotten about how dangerous he is.
Coulson’s situation is a bit more complicated as he is now forced to ally himself with Ward. There’s no pretense here as it’s made clear that each of them is using the other for their own ends. They both need to go after H.Y.D.R.A. for their own reasons so for the moment that makes them partners. There’s plenty of tension to be mined from Ward’s impending betrayal.
“Real S.H.I.E.L.D.” are only tangentially featured but manage to feed into the story really well. Having them aware that the toolbox they have is a fake and now seeing Coulson working with Ward adds more complications to the overall mess that everyone seems to be in.
H.Y.D.R.A. remain a really cool antagonist with their unlimited resources serving as a real threat. They can throw a lot of people at something and that makes them formidable. The end action scene of Coulson’s team trying to hold them off as they slowly outnumber the small force of Coulson’s allies and the Inhumans running around. It feels chaotic for sure.
Coulson’s decision to let himself be captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. is an interesting cliffhanger that does seem to be the only way for him to get information. I’m interested to see how he gets out of this and what else he might have planned.